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High School Drop-Out Heads to Columbia University

High School Drop-Out Heads to Columbia University

After Completing SUNY Rockland’s Honors Program


It's not too late to apply to the Honors Program


Ramapo, NY—A high school dropout is heading to Columbia University after completing the Honors Program at SUNY Rockland Community College.

Enior J. Jimenez of Spring Valley is transferring to the School of General Studies of Columbia University in the fall of 2010 where he will pursue a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and Behavior with a concentration in Middle East Studies. Ultimately, he hopes to enroll in the dual M.D./Ph.D. program at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University.

Eight years ago, this educational path seemed unlikely for Jimenez. In 2002, at the age of 16, he dropped out of high school. He said, “My current wife and then girlfriend became pregnant with my child. As a result, I left school at the beginning of my junior year and prematurely began fulfilling my responsibilities as a husband and father. I worked two full-time jobs at local gas stations trying the best I could to provide for my wife and daughter. However, as time progressed, the inescapable feeling of failure and inadequacy overcame me with fear.”

In the fall of 2007 at the age of 21, Jimenez enrolled at the College, hoping that his placement exam, interview and strong desire for intellectual growth would be enough to gain acceptance into the nationally acclaimed Honors Program.

Remembering his interview with Dr. Cliff Garner, Coordinator, Sam Draper Mentor/Talented Student (M/TS) Honors Program, he said, “Academically, I had nothing to show for myself except my GED. Incredibly, however, Dr. Garner saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.”

Garner said, “Enior told me that he a dream, and that he had heard RCC’s Honors Program was the place where dreams could begin.  I saw a young man who was obviously bright but also had drive and a clarity about what he wanted for himself and his family.  I knew right then and there that if we gave him the chance, he would succeed--and he did.”

The Honors Program offers highly advanced academic pursuits to prepare students to transfer successfully to Ivy League schools like Cornell, Columbia and Harvard, and outstanding four-year colleges like Georgetown University and Cooper Union.

Enrollment is now underway for the Fall 2010 Semester, which begins September 1. Students can take Honors courses in Liberal Arts, Business, and most recently, Art. Financial aid and child care available.

To see if you qualify for the Sam Draper Mentor/Talented Student Honors Program, contact Hannah Lowney at 845-574-4796,, or visit

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